Bumper news P2: new ferry passenger rights; ferry special offers; Cop ‘speed marathons’; winter tyres; free French motorways

7849aAs of yesterday (18 Dec) all EU ferry passengers have new rights when faced with delays and cancellations due to the operator. Weather related incidents are excluded. The rights include compensation of ticket price, the proportion depending on the length of delay, and free overnight stays in case of cancellation. Also, disabled access. Full details should be supplied onboard.

Channel operator DFDS is being quite aggressive with its special offers this week: book by 14 January 2013 using this offer code to get 20% off all trips until 20 December 2013 (terms and conditions apply). Its multi-trip offers can mean fares from £19 each way (over 12 trips) or from £27 each way for 3-4 trips (a £30 each way supplement applies to peak dates). Lastly, from now on you can catch the ferry just before, or just after, the one you were booked on, for no extra charge.

Commercial shipbuilding returned to the UK after a five year absence on Monday when an innovative hybrid ferry was launched on the Clyde. UK shipbuilding has been confined to defence and private yachts in recent years. Scottish operator CalMac also unveiled plans for the world’s first ferry powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

Luxembourg introduced new rules on winter tyres last week. In snowy and icy conditions, winter tyres will be mandatory (though all-weather tyres will be acceptable). Summer tyres will still be legal otherwise.

A networking conference for European police forces saw Finland adopt a German-style ‘speed marathon’ campaign this week. The 24 hour blitz saw 3,950 drivers breathalysed (only 8 over the limit) and 32 banned. Citizens were notified via Twitter and Facebook and were able to nominate hotspots. Portuguese police picked up on the idea too. Expect to see it here soon.

More trouble on the Serbia – Kosovo border this week as ethnic Serbs protested about new import duties.

Knowing which autoroutes are free is handy to know when driving through France. We’ve found a map (free roads shaded in grey) from ASFA, the road operators’ association. We also have a map of the free Italian autostrada which we cannot bring you because of a technical issue… the mainland free roads are restricted to the Rome ring road, and the A3 from Salerno in the south to Reggio di Calabria on the very toe of the country. Approximately half of Sicilian motorways are free, in the west and centre of the island.

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